When Lying On the Couch Is OK

By Lorraine Faehndrich

Hanging out on the couch and doing nothing is generally frowned upon in our culture rather than embraced as a tool to help with listening to your body. On the whole, we tend to value working hard and getting things done.

As a result, one area where it is easy to get tripped up on the mind body journey to relieving your pain is when it comes to listening to your body’s signals to stop and do nothing.

Your body can say, “stop” with anything from tension, physical pain, chronic fatigue, and exhaustion to a lack of energy, spark, or enthusiasm.

There are so many reasons why your body may need to stop and do nothing!

Some of the most important ones are:

  • You are physically depleted and your body needs rest in order to heal and rejuvenate.
  • Your emotions (current or old) need space to flow.  This is often the case with formerly repressed emotions.  When you start using mind body tools, there will come a point where your body is ready to start releasing old repressed emotion, and it will need downtime to do it.
  • Your soul has a message for you.  It could be anything from a needed change in direction to an inspiring idea.

When you don’t give yourself the time to stop and do nothing, none of this ever has the space to happen – and you end up tired, sick, overwhelmed, and in pain. I see the results of not listening to your body in my work with private clients again and again.  

What’s more, if you want to relieve pain, you’ve got to start giving yourself time for doing nothing so all these critical healing activities have space to happen – even when (actually, especially when!) you think you “have too much to do.”

A Personal Account on Listening To Your Body:

I wrote the following around this time last year, but I go through mini-versions of this cycle on a regular basis.  Luckily, these days I am much quicker to recognize when it’s time for me to stop everything and get on the couch!

….I was in a funk.  I was having trouble focusing.  I wasn’t getting anything done and my mind was stuck in self-criticism and negative future predictions.

I finally decided to stop pushing myself and check in with my body.  When I did, I noticed that my heart was aching and felt heavy.  I was physically exhausted and there wasn’t one thing I could think of doing that sounded remotely appealing except sleep. 

I asked my soul for guidance and it was crystal clear….

“You need to stop and feel.”

I had been pushing myself for weeks.  Ignoring the heaviness in my heart, wondering what happened to my spark, energy and enthusiasm.  I was starting to think old thoughts like, “What’s wrong with me?” and “I can’t do this.”

There were old emotions surfacing that needed space to flow.

And, even with years and years of practice listening to and following my body’s wisdom, and a deep knowing that my emotions are guidance from my soul, it was really hard for me to give myself the space to stop and do that.

Thoughts like “There’s too much to do to take a break” and “I’m being a terrible mother” were pushing me to embrace my old habits and send my emotions right back down where they came from.

Except I was too aware of what my soul wanted and what the consequences of pushing through would be.  So, I cleared my schedule and lay down on the couch and did nothing for almost 2 full days. 

My mind was not at all happy with this course of events, and persisted in coming up with reasons that I should DO something…..

“You’re just being lazy.  You’re doing this wrong.  You don’t have to feel sad.  This is a waste of time.  How are you going to maintain a business if you lie around feeling sad?  Find a better feeling thought.  Focus on what you want.  Look at it in a new way.  For goodness sakes, and you call yourself a coach!”

I soothed my mind as best I could and persisted in following my soul’s guidance, and on the third day tears started to flow.

For a couple more days that’s what I did, cry and rest, still on the couch.  Only now instead of sleeping and watching tv, I had the energy to read, listen to music, and write in my journal.

I gave my body the space it needed to process and as a result allowed some old emotion to flow that had been weighing me down, and heard some messages that I really needed to hear.

By day 5 I was up and hiking in my favorite place, re-inspired, full of joy, and filled with appreciation for myself and my life again.  Things were back to feeling easy.

Trusting yourself and allowing your emotions won’t always look like your mind thinks it should.

It won’t always fit into a convenient schedule or include structured mind body practices.

Sometimes it will look like doing nothing – on the couch or anywhere else. How you go about listening to your body will vary.

But nothing is important work and a necessary part of relieving pain, healing your body, and living a soul based, jump out of bed in the morning, arms wide open, twirling in the sun, outrageously joyful LIFE!

If you’re struggling right now to keep up, if you’re in pain, or you feel like you are pushing 1000 lbs uphill against the wind and all you really want to do is stop and lie down…..

It’s time to start listening to your body.  The fact is, you’re not going to get anywhere you truly want to go (including out of pain) until you do.

Here are some tips to get you started listening to your body…..

1.  Make the decision to TRUST

Trust yourself.  Trust the information you get from your body, soul, and emotions, over anything your mind or anyone else is telling you.

2.  Have a journal handy

You’ll need it to write down the stories that your mind is spinning so you can identify and name them.  You do not want to let those thoughts float around unchecked in your mind.  Beating yourself up with your own thoughts will stop your true emotions from flowing and keep you stuck.   Of course, you can also use your journal to free write and communicate with your soul!

3.  Decide to love and nurture rather than doubt and worry.

If you have a history of depression or disconnecting by zoning out, the idea of doing nothing may bring up fearful thoughts that you are going down a familiar and painful road.  Take the time to consciously connect and be intentional about your downtime.  You are not hiding.  You are making an important decision to take the time and space you need to listen deeply to your own soul.

Imagine a bubble of light and love around you.  Allow it to fill you up and protect you.  Appreciate yourself.  Wrap yourself in a soft blanket.  Create a nurturing sacred space, physically and energetically, so that you feel safe and loved in your cocoon.   Remind yourself that you are connecting – not disconnecting.

4.  Enjoy Yourself

You are allowed to revel in your doing nothingness.  In fact my hunch is that it’s much more effective when you do!  If sadness or anger needs to come they will.  You don’t have to make anything happen. Just do whatever it is that feels good to you.

Your body and soul will always communicate exactly what you need.  The key is taking the leap to listen and follow through. It may not look like you think it should, and it won’t always be lying on the couch.  But whatever your body is telling you, I highly encourage and fully support you to listen. The truth is that despite our conditioning, listening to your body will only help you as you work on mind body healing and creating the life of your dreams!

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  1. Kathryn

    What a very wise article. Thanks so much or the inspiration to trust ourselves, and trust our inner wisdom.

    • Lorraine

      Hi Kathryn. You’re welcome! Thank you for reading. I’m glad you found it inspiring!

  2. Isabel

    Thank you for this timely reminder, Lorraine! I will make a special effort to listen to my body during this crazy busy time of year.

    • Lorraine

      You’re welcome Isabel! Thank you for writing. I’m so glad you will make a special effort to listen to your body. It will make all the difference. Happy Holidays!

      • Mike

        That Was Just Beautifully said Thank You for The Message Lorraine 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

  3. Rebecca

    Thank you Lorraine for this timely reminder! I especially liked giving myself permission and setting the intention to: “……revel in your doing nothingness.” Simply…..beautiful<3


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